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In re Conservatorship of the Person of Amanda B.

May 15, 2009

CONSERVATORSHIP OF THE PERSON OF AMANDA B.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT,
v.
AMANDA B., OBJECTOR AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from a postjudgment order of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Theodore M. Weathers, Judge. Affirmed in part, reversed in part. (Super. Ct. No. MH99491).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aaron, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*fn1

I. INTRODUCTION

Conservatee Amanda B. appeals from a postjudgment order denying her petition for a rehearing on her status as a conservatee and denying her request to modify the disabilities that the trial court imposed as part of the judgment reestablishing Amanda's conservatorship. After the court reestablished Amanda's conservatorship and imposed a number of special disabilities on Amanda, she filed two petitions for rehearing, one in which she sought to challenge her status as a conservatee, and another in which she challenged the trial court's imposition of special disabilities pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code*fn2 section 5357, including the court's decision to deny her (1) "[t]he privilege of possessing a license to operate a motor vehicle," (2) the right to contract, and (3) the right to refuse or consent to medical treatment. (See § 5357, subds. (a), (b), (d) and (e).) The trial court denied Amanda's petition for a rehearing on her status as a conservatee, but held a hearing on the issue of the special disabilities. After the hearing, the trial court denied Amanda's request to remove the special disabilities.

On appeal, Amanda contends that there is insufficient evidence to support the trial court's denial of her request to be allowed to have a driver's license, to enter into contracts, and to make her own medical decisions. She further contends that the trial court erred in denying her petition for a rehearing on her status as a conservatee on the ground that she had not waited six months from the time of the establishment of her conservatorship to file the petition.

We conclude that there is substantial evidence to support the trial court's order denying Amanda's request for modification, and affirm that portion of the order. However, we reverse the court's order insofar as it denies on procedural grounds Amanda's petition for rehearing regarding her status as a conservatee.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 19, 2008, the San Diego County Public Conservator filed a petition to re-establish the conservatorship of Amanda under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act.*fn3 On June 4, 2008, a jury found Amanda to be gravely disabled. That same day, the trial court entered a judgment reestablishing Amanda's conservatorship and imposing special disabilities on Amanda, including denying her the privilege of having a driver's license, denying her the right to enter into contracts, and denying her the right to make decisions regarding her medical care.*fn4

On July 1, 2008, Amanda filed a petition for rehearing as to the finding that she is unable to provide food, clothing or shelter for herself. On July 29, Amanda filed a second petition for rehearing in which she sought to modify the judgment with regard to her right to possess a license to operate a motor vehicle, to enter into contracts, and to make medical decisions pertaining to her own care, presumably pursuant to section 5358.3.*fn5 The trial court scheduled a hearing with respect to both matters for August 14, 2008.

On August 14, without holding a hearing, the trial court denied Amanda's first petition for rehearing, in which she challenged the finding regarding her inability to provide food, clothing, and/or shelter for herself pursuant to section 5364. Relying on Henreid v. Superior Court (1976) 59 Cal.App.3d 552 (Henreid), the court ruled that the petition for rehearing regarding Amanda's status as a conservatee was premature because she filed the petition before six months had elapsed from the time of the establishment of the conservatorship.

The court held a contested hearing as to Amanda's section 5358.3 petition for rehearing in which she sought modification of the disabilities that the court had imposed. Dr. Matthew Carroll testified on behalf of the public conservator regarding Amanda's specific disabilities. Dr. Carroll testified that it was his opinion that Amanda was not capable of making medical decisions regarding her mental and physical illnesses. Dr. Carroll further testified that Amanda should not be permitted to enter into contracts because her delusional thinking made her vulnerable to the possibility that people would take advantage of her. He also testified that he did not believe it would be safe to permit Amanda to drive, and that she should therefore not be allowed to possess a driver's license.

Amanda testified on her own behalf. She said that she would go to the doctor and continue seeing a psychiatrist if she were given the opportunity to make her own medical decisions. Amanda's attorney argued that she should be given the right to enter into contracts, to drive, and to make her own medical and mental health decisions.

After hearing testimony and considering documentary evidence, the trial court denied Amanda's request for ...


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